I’m proud to be an independent optometrist at LensCrafters in Mission Valley, San Diego. I decided to share my story to help other ODs who might be curious about exploring a career with Luxottica as an independent practice owner!
I worked for LensCrafters during my undergrad years, so I already had some familiarity with the brand and knew that I liked the company. I kept my options open after graduating from optometry school because I wanted to explore what kind of practice opportunity was right for me.
My first job after optometry school was becoming the Managing Optometrist at the LensCrafters in Palm Desert, CA. Then, when Luxottica moved to a sublease business model in California, I decided to take the leap with them. After doing plenty of research, I decided that owning an independent practice with LensCrafters would be the right career choice for me. I didn’t know much about the business side of optometry, so I knew it would be hard work. But I also knew that I would have an excellent company by my side.
Reasons why I chose this setting
The main reasons I decided on this setting were low startup costs, key support in areas where I needed it most like staffing and marketing, and finally, the potential for career growth opportunities.
Low Startup Costs:
Compared to starting a private practice or starting cold entirely, operating under a sublease is very low-risk, high-reward. It did not require a major monetary investment or come with a lot of overhead to worry about, which was another attractive benefit.
Because startup costs differ for each store, it's hard for me to give you insight into what your overhead would be. But if you're curious, click here to get in touch with the team at Luxottica who can give you more info on your specific location!
To give you a general idea of what to expect, here are some costs that are pretty typical across most stores and locations:
- Legal and accounting fees (assuming you utilize the help of professionals)
- LLC or other business entity formation fees
- Monthly rent
- Utilities (although these can be covered in your rent)
- Equipment outside what is provided
- Liability Insurance
- Credit card processing fees
I can say that the whole process of getting started was very easy. In optometry school, they barely mentioned owning a sublease or the business side of optometry, so it’s nice to have such great help. I’ve always been very entrepreneurial, and having a company like Luxottica by my side has helped me to run my own practice seamlessly!
Not long after signing my lease, my practice was already fully stocked with all the exam equipment I would need in order to practice to my greatest potential.
My particular location came with the following equipment:
- complete exam lane equipment with phoropter, slit lamp, trial lens kit, condensing lenses, BIO, retinoscope, ophthalmoscope, penlight
- pre-test lane equipped with ClarifyeSM auto-refractor/keratometer/topographer, non-contact tonometer, visual fields, acuity testing machine, color vision and depth perception test, lensometer, Optomap retinal camera
I was very excited to have the ClarifyeSM digital refracting system upon entering the practice. ClarifyeSM truly represents the highest technology in refracting, as it features a digital phoropter and iPad to refract with and open patient profiles and data to analyze. This equipment helps me prescribe the most accurate prescription to my patients, and allows me to detect corneal and media irregularities with the built-in aberrometer and topographer.
Not only do I have everything that I need to practice and serve my patients, but I also have the freedom to expand and add any additional equipment on my own such as an OCT.
Operating as an independent practice owner with Luxottica, I receive support in the areas where clinicians need it most: marketing, practice management, human resources, and technology. This support gives me the ability to focus on delivering the best quality of care to my patients.
Staffing and Marketing Support:
The most challenging part about being an independent practice owner, like any practice owner, is staffing. LensCrafters staffs and trains the opticians and store managers I work in tandem with. I am fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to be involved in their training including pre-testing skills and contact lens knowledge. I enjoy being part of their learning and development, and prefer taking an active role in this process with my store managers even though it might add more tasks to my schedule and sometimes create different kinds of challenges. In the end, it is always a great learning opportunity for myself and having that support is a big benefit.
When it comes to hiring my staff or searching for associate ODs, I look for candidates with the best personality. I believe you can train almost anyone to learn technical skills, but people skills are either there or not. The key personality features I look for in staff are friendliness, a smiling nature, and upbeat energy.
All in all, I am grateful that my relationship with my staff is very good. I thank them as much as I can and I believe this is key to keeping team spirit and motivating their successes.
Many practices struggle when it comes to marketing. Luckily, LensCrafters invests heavily in national marketing and provides their Doctors with additional tools and resources to use online and in their local markets. For example, Luxottica provides a doctor marketing website that I use to order and customize marketing materials for my office such as business cards and postcards. LensCrafters also provides a lot of complementary marketing such as social media marketing and doctor landing pages complete with my profile and access to the appointment scheduling website—so this is very helpful.
Career Growth Opportunities:
Some of the other reasons I pursued an independent practice with Luxottica were largely related to career growth opportunities. I wanted to be able to learn and develop business and practice management skills and continue to grow my practice and achieve my career goals. Luxottica practices are designed to give affiliated ODs the freedom to choose their future. The variety of practice paths from independent practice, franchise ownership or full or part time employment across all of their recognized brands like LensCrafters, LensCrafters at Macy’s, Target Optical, Sears Optical and Pearle Vision, gives doctors the flexibility to practice in a setting that best aligns with their personal and professional goals.
When I first took on this sublease opportunity, I thought I might try it for a year and then see how things were going. After year one was complete, I reflected on the pros and cons and realized it was the best choice for me. So, I renewed my lease for 5 years because I wanted to commit myself more to my practice and see it grow and succeed as the years go by.
At the end of the day, it is great coming into work each day knowing that I have a large dedicated support team at LensCrafters that I can lean on including regional managers and eyecare directors whenever I have questions or need help with any specific topics. I get their help with ideas on how to grow exams and increase my patient retention, or how I can onboard an associate doctor.
Who is the right fit for this type of setting?
Those optometrists who are looking to own and operate a practice with the support and backing of an industry-leading company will thrive in a Luxottica Branded Practice. If you want to have the freedom to provide comprehensive eye care in a patient-focused environment, you will do well in this modality.
Sometimes you might read some negative comments on social media pages about practicing in a particular modality or with a particular brand, but you need to understand there are always two sides to every story. For every negative comment, I am sure you can find a positive comment from doctors already practicing. I was well aware of this interchange when I got started and felt that I needed to try it for myself and see what it was truly like.
If you are motivated by success and want to build your practice within a brand and achieve success collectively as a partner of Luxottica, you will excel. You should be prepared to have a mindset that focuses on leadership and should have a strong sense of pride and ownership in how you run your practice to provide the best patient experience possible. In short, this modality is perfect for those who want to run their own practice but with key support in non-clinical areas.
There are some things that potential doctors should be aware of. Doctors should know that a Luxottica sublease is just like running your own practice from a business standpoint, so you should expect to be involved in growing your practice and managing it. This requires time, energy, and dedication with the key difference being you have the help and support of Luxottica who invests in support tools and resources to help you every step of the way.
Watch more on what it is like being an independent practice owner with Luxottica!
My Average Day as a Luxottica Independent Practice Owner
Each morning, my day starts by running through a checklist of things I need to do for that day’s patients. I will access my schedule from home to review it and make any necessary notes that I should be aware of throughout the day. After having my coffee and eating breakfast, I hop into the car and head over to the office.
My commute to work is about 20 minutes long. During that time, I generally listen to some motivational podcasts like TedX talks to get me going. Sometimes I will listen to audiobooks on Audible which I enjoy doing from time to time. Other days I’ll tune into some podcasts, like BBC documentaries, politics, and of course anything related to running a business.
The first thing I do when I arrive at the office is greet the staff and get my exam room set up for the day. I’ll review my schedule and charts once again about 5-10 minutes before I start seeing my patients.
We do have regularly scheduled store manager meetings once a week in the mornings and daily huddles to plan for the day.
Located in a busy LensCrafters storefront in Mission Valley, San Diego, I run one of the top five high-volume practices in the nation, and each day it is truly exciting to take on this challenge.
Patient Volume and Hours
I work 5-6 days a week, 9-6 on weekdays and 11-5 on weekends. I typically have a busy, full schedule. Running an independent practice affiliated with LensCrafters is great because I don’t need to worry about establishing a patient base or attempting to grow my patient base on my own. I already have the support of a major company, a recognized brand, and excellent marketing that gave me a solid patient base from the beginning that continues to grow. Having patients in your exam chair is critical when it comes to generating revenue and achieving personal financial goals.
A full schedule at my practice typically involves seeing 20-25 patients per day. I have the freedom to set my own hours and days as the practice owner. I chose my hours and days according to what I thought would be best for my patient population. I have a contract that states doctor coverage requirements, so as long as I meet those standards and have an associate doctor working during doctor hours, there are no issues.
My office is set up so that I usually have two doctors working at the same time and we each see 5-10 patients in the morning, take lunch from 12-1, and see an additional 5-10 after lunch. I usually spend my lunchtime taking care of odds and ends I need to get done for the day!
I try to see as many patients as I can in a day while giving them the best experience possible. Managing the patient load is never an issue because of the staff support I have and the technology provided by Luxottica really increases efficiency and the quality of care I can provide. Once again, I can’t stress how important it is to have a great staff to help with everything.
My staff is responsible for patient check-in, preparing their record and obtaining their insurance information, pre-testing, and then check-out. My staff completes the billing and then schedules them for next year and begins helping the patient with their eyeglass order and/or contact lens order.
When it comes to technology, I’ve got plenty available to me. Our refracting system has a built-in topographer. Patients love how quickly we’re able to complete this process thanks to our top-of-the-line equipment. This technology really helps with patient flow and allows me to find time to develop rapport with patients and treat them as a friend rather than a patient. Doing so only helps to grow your practice even further!
Tools like Clarifye have really been a major asset for me both in terms of providing a great exam experience and improving efficiencies. The Daytona Optomap was included in my lease to utilize free of charge, and I generate additional revenue from it. It is an incredible tool to have available in helping diagnose retinal disease and patients love the technology. It also makes practicing easier, particularly for those patients that refuse dilation.
Your main source of income comes from professional fees that you set. In some cases, as an independent optometrist, you can set your own fees and can use competitors in the area to inform yourself on what might be appropriate. As a LensCrafters sublease doctor in California, we are providers of Eyexam of California which is an HMO under LensCrafters and we have a set fee schedule for exams, contact lens fitting fees, etc. The fees are the same for every LensCrafters sublease in California. The sublease doctor can not change the fees for routine care.
For sublease doctors who would like to take medical insurance plans and bill additional medical services such as punctal plugs, they will be generating revenue on their own and using their own point of service.
In regards to professional fees - here are some things you should consider:
- Eye exam fees (copays, reimbursements, out-of-pocket exam fees)
- Contact lens fitting and evaluation fees
- Specialty care services (vision therapy, low vision, specialty contact lenses…)
- Medical exam fees (glaucoma work-ups, foreign body removals, diabetic eye exams)
- Diagnostic testing fees (retinal photos, visual fields, OCT, gonioscopy, pachymetry.)
My Typical Patient Encounter
I see all kinds of patients. I see everything from contact lens follow-ups to more chronic eye conditions, including those emergency red-eye visits. It is not uncommon to manage those emergency patients—acute retinal detachments, ulcers, abrasions—I've seen it all.
I see mostly patients in the age group of 18-60, with most being millennials. One area of growth that I am targeting is the pediatric population. I would love to grow my pediatric population base and am working on marketing with that goal in mind.
While every patient encounter usually begins and ends with my examination, I do work with the optical. We operate very much as a team. My patients are their customers and their customers are my patients. We respect and honor our close relationship and ensure that our patients/customers have a seamless experience. The optical team works very hard to ensure they meet all the doctor-side needs every day.
The optical does stay open later than my practice, but if I'm staying late and someone comes in with an emergency, I'll do my best to accommodate them. That is just the way I like to run my practice and operate.
I co-manage and make referrals to other optometrists, ophthalmologists or primary care physicians if necessary; I want my patients to get the best care possible. I practice full scope to my comfort limits and have no restrictions on the care I give. I would like to build specialty contact lens services in my practice, and that is one thing I am currently working on adding.
Myopia is really important to me and I want to be involved with myopia control so I would like to parlay specialty contact lenses into my practice as a treatment option.
Support from contact lens vendors has been extremely helpful in pursuing this venture. I would advise other doctors to expand their knowledge and practice if they prefer and not be scared to pursue additional specialty services. The first step is to find out what you would like to add to your practice, then research it thoroughly and find vendors who are willing to work with you and support you.
Wrapping Up My Day
At the end of the day when I’m done with my patients, I spend a few minutes of looking up the numbers and transactions of the day making sure everything was accounted for. I then will close the exam lanes and say thank you and goodnight to the staff.
I do not typically need to do anything in order to prepare for the next day and after exams and charting are done, I am pretty much done as well. I like to call my mom at the end of each day on my drive home and catch up; we are very close and it’s comforting to chat with her about my day and her day. I spend my evenings going on walks in my neighborhood and making dinner at home. There is always a feeling of gratification at the end of every day. I feel grateful for my job at the end of the day knowing that I improved the quality of vision for all my patients whom I treat like family. I’m driven by serving others and doing my best.
My practice is open 7 days a week, so we can see as many patients as possible. There are two doctors at the practice, as well as an excellent staff, so I know that when I’m not there, everything’s taken care of.
Occasionally, I’ll work from home, because I genuinely enjoy it and I want to make sure that things run smoothly. I do it not because I have to, but because I want to. Working from home involves checking emails, looking at my appointment book, making charts, and even creating my schedule which I usually do while winding down for the day.
I’m still working on finding that perfect balance. But aren’t we all? I try to keep my evenings and weekends to myself. When my husband and I aren’t at work, we make an effort to talk about other things. I always try to take time for myself and for my personal development.
I love to travel. I have a bucket list of the top countries I would like to visit and explore. So far I have seen 3/10. It is challenging to find time off to travel abroad because I have to plan about six months ahead of time, and can take mostly up to seven days off at a time. I do feel comfortable taking the time off because I can trust my associate doctors and staff to hold the fort while I’m gone. I do also enjoy taking a lot of small two-day local trips which are easier to schedule. When it comes to finding coverage, I have my associate doctors pick up a few extra shifts, or I ask some fill-in doctors I know and/or I post on our doctor scheduling site.
One thing that has been instrumental in finding work-life balance is having an OD husband that I can share my happiness and worries with all the same as he knows and understands the daily trials and tribulations I face. We make a great team when we work together—we never clash, which I know is very rare and I’m grateful for that. We give ourselves 15 minutes each to discuss any optometry related topic after the work-day is over as a fun way to release any final work thoughts of the day, then we enjoy our time together with family without discussing work.
How has working for a Luxottica-branded practice helped my career?
Subleasing an independent practice with Luxottica gives me the freedom to run my own practice. I have a role in decision-making, but issues like staffing and equipment repairs are taken care of. I also have weekly meetings with the optical store manager, so we can make sure everything’s on the right track. These weekly manager/doctor meetings are designed to review patient experience and create a plan for success for the upcoming week and month. For example, we discuss how many patients I expect to see for the week which is the exam goal, what challenges we faced the prior week and how we can overcome them for the upcoming week, what was the weeks’ NPS (net promoter score), and how to coach and train staff to provide the best patient experience.
Each doctor can set their own personal business goals and work with the store manager to achieve these goals. For example, my weekly exam goal is to grow 10% compared to the same week last year. The most important thing to me as a business owner is to grow my patient base and be the eye care provider for the whole family for years to come.
Thanks to Luxottica, I’ve been able to attain many of my personal and professional goals. I own a house with my husband, and we just bought a new car. I’m able to pay my student loans at a normal pace without having my personal goals be affected.
I’m grateful for the security that working for a respected brand like Luxottica offers me. It’s amazing to have support on the business end so I can focus on giving my patients the best care possible.
I think that this opportunity really is for everyone. It offers the freedom of owning your own practice as well as the many resources and networking opportunities that Luxottica can provide you. If you’re interested in the business side of optometry, as well as helping as many patients as possible, then you’ll be a great fit.
In the end, I’m my own boss. I manage and run my own practice, but I don’t have the same worries that I would if I were a private practice owner. With the low overhead costs and the high-traffic location, I really have the best of both worlds. With Luxottica, you can too.